The Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) diagnostic clinic and field extension team spent the week in the field visiting different field sites and facilities. The objective of the trip was to provide in-field training and exposure to new (and old) team members and to provide an opportunity for the team to interact with, and learn from, our forestry colleagues. This was the first year that this trip comprised both the diagnostic clinic and field extension team – this is part of an ongoing process to ensure integration between these groups and to provide our students and staff with an understanding of the ‘bigger picture’ in relation to tree health, from the collection of samples, engaging with foresters and farmers, processing samples and providing informative and relevant feedback.

The field trip was led by Sandisiwe Jali, Field Extension Manager: TPCP, and Dr Gabrielle Carstensen, Diagnostic Clinic Manager: TPCP. The other team members on the trip were Josias Letaoana, Shawn Fell, Harm Barten, Phozisa Dlokweni, Callin Ceriani and Alida van Dijk. The team was also privileged to include Dr Trudy Paap, a postdoctoral Fellow at FABI who has extensive knowledge and experience working with tree pests and pathogens.

The areas visited included Louis Trichardt, Sabie, Nelspruit, Piet Retief and Amsterdam. In Louis Trichardt there were formal presentations by Dr Gabrielle Carstensen and Josias Letaoana, on services provided by the FABI diagnostic clinic and field extension to a group of private growers in the area. The team also visited four commercial nurseries and one research nursery from York Timbers, SAPPI, SAFCOL and Mondi in different parts of Mpumalanga, where our industry colleagues kindly provided a tour of their nursery facilities and production processes. There were also various field stops to collect samples and assess the damage caused by different pests and diseases.

A trip of this magnitude would not be possible or successful without the help of different parties. A BIG thank you to all our industry partners, specifically York Timbers, SAPPI, Mondi, SAFCOL and private growers in Louis Trichardt (led by Mari Wilson), for your time and hospitality and showing us your facilities and field sites.